Identification of Japanese Sword

Hello and thank you in advance for helping me identify the type and date of the Japanese Sword I have inherited. Several pictures of the sword are attached. The sword was given to Lt. C.L. Glover, US soldier who served in the Pacific in WWII, while he was in the Phillipines. Based on the length of the sword (total length is 29 inches, blade is 20 inches) I believe it is a Wakazachi sword. Inscribed in English on one side of the Scabbard is “Present to LT C.L. Glover”. Inscribed in Japanese in red writing on the opposite side of the sword (as translated by a neighbor from Japan) is the following:
Okayama-ken = name of Prefecture in Japan
Kojima-gun = Kojima County (perhaps now Kurashiki)
Shimotsui-machi = town of Shimotsui
Miyake = surname (presumably of original owner)
Rinzou = name (presumably of owner)

Inscribed on the blade are Japanese characters referring to:
Hachiman or Yahata = Samurai Warrior Family God
Daibosatsu = Those who pursue truth and true happiness

Inscribed in Japanese (difficult to read) on the bottom of the hilt:
“Training with Japanese Sword. I am sad”. OR “Forging Japanese Sword. I am sad”. Followed by etched English initials PW.
Believe this is either a very old Samurai sword or WWII era Japanese Military sword. Thank you again for any help you can provide!!! Pictures attached.

1swordinscabbard.jpg88.3 KB
2swordand_scabbard.jpg88.66 KB
3fullsword.jpg95.35 KB
4glover.jpg91.62 KB
5scabbardengraving.jpg101.64 KB
6bladeengraving.jpg94.21 KB
7hilt.jpg97.32 KB
8handle.jpg99.9 KB


Please post a picture of the "sad" marking.
Also, remove the handle and post a picture of the tang.

My first thought is that it's a post-war souvenir - the type of stuff sold to occupation forces in the 40's and 50's.
Is the handle and scabbard wrapped in suede?
How is the handle attached to the blade?



Another thought: Is it possible that the leather cover is protecting a "real" tsuka (handle) underneath? I'm thinking this because the handle looks "too fat" relative to the blade, and I see the dark red "paint" that perhaps is the seam for the leather cover.
Need to know what's under the leather.

IF it is a real blade, it is in very poor condition, because it appears to have been attacked with a grinding/polishing wheel...


Response 1 re Sad

Pete, thanks very much for your quick response!
I have attached 3 pictures of the engravings on the bottom of the hilt. Sorry they are not of better quality. Not being a sword expert I am afraid to attempt to remove the handle. The handle and scabbard are wrapped in a gray suede leather and it appears seams are covered with a maroon tape. The scabbard is wood, covered by suede leather. A relative who has some knowledge of Civil War era swords says the blade is in good shape, not sure what to make of that. Our family friend (C.L. Glover) returned from the Philippines circa 1944. Eventually I would like to know the approximate value. However, this was passed to me from my father-in-law after he died with the purpose of it staying in the family (me, then my son, then my grandson). This is what I intend, no plans to sell! Thanks again and please let me know what other information I can provide.

PS I am unable to attach pictures (files) to this response so I will create a separate blog wherein I can attach files. I will title the new blog Sword Engravings.


Hi, Virtually any type of "real" Japanese sword will have the handle attached to the tang with a wood peg. There are no exceptions that I can think of.
So, the thought is that under the leather on the handle, you would find one of the two broad types:
1) A "shirasaya", which is nothing but wood, with a peg going through the blade tang.
2) A handle made of wood, wrapped with a layer of ray-skin, then wrapped with a flat cord similar to shoelace.
See typical pictures here:
In the pictures, you can see the "mekugi" (peg) on the handles.
Try squeezing the leather cover on the sides of the handle, about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way from the handguard. Maybe you can feel something?

My suggestion is that if you want to know more, the leather has to come off of the handle.

Note that for ANY traditional Japanese sword, a leather cover would only be used to protect something nicer underneath. And, as far as I know, this was only commonly done in WWII in tropical areas. Otherwise, leather is almost never found on Japanese swords, because it was simply not a popular material in a culture that traditionally didn't have cows. In the old days, craftsmen who worked with hides/carcasses were 'untouchables' - it was considered nasty, unclean work.


Removing Handle

Pete, thanks again. Your expertise is greatly appreciated.
With my wife's artistic hand I am going to attempt to remove the leather from the handle.
I will send pictures. Would this sword be more "authentic" and/or of more valuable with the leather removed and the assumed wooden handle showing?


Hi, a potential increase in value would not be because of exposing what's underneath the leather, but rather in removing the handle and exposing the whole blade, including the tang.
This will tell us a lot about the age and quality of the blade.
It will hopefully prove that it is an old hand-made blade, and not a 'souvenir'.
Many blades are signed - if yours is, then that is another hint.


Removing Handle

One last question before attempting to remove the current handle.
The seams are covered in a maroon leather that was evidently glued down over the seams and then sanded to create a smooth transition to the rest of the leather handle. Please advise how difficult it will be to reconstruct the handle or to put it back on once the tang has been revealed. While I am extremely interested as to what I might discover I also want to be able to display the sword with handle and not just the tang showing. Thanks!! Dale


Hi, so do we have results yet?



Regarding: "some knowledge of Civil War era swords says the blade is in good shape".
I'm sure that's true, in that context. But Japanese swords are "cared for" at a much higher level than many other swords. As an example, look at this:
This one happens to be mine, for sale on consignment (feel free to buy it! :-) ).
It is an example of "very good" condition, but not Best. Notice the various clean, sharp edges, and the shapes seen in the tip area, etc.
Most other types of swords are crudely made in comparison, and rust spots and visible scratches may be considered "normal wear and tear" - but with a Japanese blade, those are serious problems, except for the tang, which is EXPECTED to be tarnished by handling.


Condition of Blade

I did not mean to challenge your statement about the condition of the blade. I also inherited a Civil War sword and a Turkish sword and the blades on these, by comparison, are in much worse shape than the Japanese sword. I think that is where the comparison of blade condition came from.
You obviously have a tremendous knowledge of Japanese swords and I am grateful to tap into that. This is a new and exciting adventure for me, especially given the respect we had for C.L. Glover, who gave this to my father-in-law.


Hi Dale, I can't be very specific, because this leather covering is "non-standard".
If it were mine, I would do this:
Use an X-acto knife or razor blade to split it open on the seam, being careful not to cut anything below the leather. After cutting an inch or two, it should become clear what's underneath, and you can stop if you don't like what you see. I would suggest that you want to at least remove enough get access to the MEKUGI (peg), if it exists.
Most likely, I would not want to put the leather back on, because 'at best' it is a WWII protective cover because the blade came from the tropics.